August 2 Morning Newscast

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August 2, 2012 Morning Edition News

Testimony continues this morning in the lawsuits over the firing of Birmingham School Superintendent Craig Witherspoon and the state’s takeover of the city school system. The preliminary hearing began yesterday at the Jefferson County Courthouse. After a full day of courtroom wrangling, State Representative Mary Moore expressed her frustration, especially after Witherspoon’s attorney alleged that School Board President Edward Maddox wasn’t eligible to serve on the board because he lives in Trussville, not Birmingham.

Yesterday’s testimony included Maddox, Witherspoon, and Samuette Drew (the interim superintendent the Birmingham board appointed when it fired Witherspoon.) The state is expected to call its witnesses this morning.

An attorney for former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman is asking a federal judge to not send Siegelman back to prison tomorrow. U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller originally sentenced Siegelman to more than seven years in federal prison for his 2006 conviction for bribery and other charges. Fuller is resentencing Siegelman because a federal appeals court dropped two of the charges. Siegelman’s attorney, Susan James of Montgomery, has filed a motion saying nothing will be served by sending Siegelman back to prison. She asks that he be given an alternative sentence. But in the email to supporters, Siegelman says it might be his last chance to email them “for some time.”

The U.S. Attorney’s office says a grand jury has indicted a Birmingham police officer who is accused of using excessive force. 34-year-old Corey Hooper is charged with depriving the civil rights of two individuals while acting under his authority as a police officer. Hooper is accused of injuring a suspect with “electro-shock” by using a Taser stun gun against him in 2007. In another incident, he allegedly used his fists to repeatedly strike a suspect who was handcuffed in the backseat of a patrol car.

The University of Alabama will build a $9 million, two-story training facility for athletes. University system trustees on Wednesday approved construction of the nearly 35,000 square-foot building between the indoor practice facility and athletic complex. It’s expected to be completed by January. The facility will include a weight room, rehabilitation and cardio area, strength coaches’ offices and a nutrition bar and juice room. The Crimson Tide Foundation will pay for nearly a million dollars of the project, with the remaining eight million funded by future revenue bonds. Alabama received a waiver on the bidding process and awarded the nearly $600,000 contract to Birmingham firm Davis Architects. The company oversaw the expansion of both end zones at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

University system Trustees also approved contracts for the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s football and basketball coaches and the athletic director. Football coach Garrick McGee will make $550,000 a year in base salary under his five-year contract. That’s nearly $200,000 more than his predecessor Neil Callaway. Basketball coach Jerod Haase is making $475,000 a year, compared to Mike Davis’ $625,000 salary. And athletic director Brian Mackin receives a four-year, $300,000 deal with incentives for academic achievement and football and men’s basketball postseason play. He was making $246,000, which UAB President Carol Garrison says “put him at the very bottom of Conference USA.”

Authorities say several dogs, cats and chickens and more than 100 birds have been confiscated from a Gadsden home after animal control officers responded to a complaint. Gadsden police Lt. Paul Cody tells The Gadsden Times someone complained about the smell. When officer raided the home they found more than two dozen dead birds.

The American Red Cross is launching a hurricane app for smart phones. It gives users instant access to local and real-time information on what to do before, during and after hurricanes. It also allows people to monitor personalized weather alerts in locations where family and friends reside and share information with others in their social networks. The app is available on both iPhone and Android platforms.